John Glenn’s Heroism in the Era of Top Down Analytics

John Glenn sat atop a Mercury Redstone rocket like this one, totally dependent on the analytics Mission Control used to determine his spaceflight's fate.John Glenn, senator, astronaut and the first American to orbit the Earth, died in Columbus on Thursday.  Senator Glenn was the last of the Mercury 7 Astronauts. We’ve lost our last link to an era when a courageous few were brave enough to volunteer to sit alone on top of a rocket while everyone else involved was in a protected environment or bunker three miles away.

Many people forget that test rockets exploded on the launch pad an alarming number of times, incinerating the capsule on top. For John Glenn and every astronaut of his era sitting atop of a rocket and volunteering to go to space was an act of courage, bravery and faith. They had faith in others who performed countless hours of analysis to make the computations that made space flight possible.

The Era of Top Down Analytics

Much has been made of the fact that more computing power is in a typical smartphone than the technology used to help Americans get to the moon. In the 1950s and 60s, top-down analytics was the norm. An elite few performed calculations using the best means available and collaborated with others to complete analysis.

Empowering individuals with computers and the means to perform real-time analysis to solve problems was impossible. Just look at scenes from Apollo 13 with scientists grabbing slide rules to perform computations to complete analytical tasks.

Today’s era of tablets and smartphones gives knowledge workers a tremendous amount of computing power, even on the go.

Data Democratization and Mobile Task Oriented Analytics

Today business users perform tasks on computers and mobile devices in ways that were not even on the minds of scientists hurrying through computations on their slide rule.

Data democratization, which breaks down walls and provides data to improve decision making when and where users need it, has become increasingly popular in BI and analytics circles.

Unfortunately, while most business applications provide everyday business users with the ability to take action as part of the application workflow, they fall short in a big way. They don’t enable users to leverage data in reports and dashboards as part of that workflow. Even BI and analytics tools providing self-service capabilities are generally distinct from the application workflow.

Most so-called “embedded BI” solutions provide a view and limit the ability to configure or drill into reports, dashboards and data visualizations. Developers create those curated experiences in a separate development environment. It’s only those environments that they publish out to the application. This perpetuates the top-down analytics approach of yesterday.

Business users looking to make data-driven decisions need the ability to create their own reports and dashboards. An embedded analytics solution that enables data democratization will allow for the business user to self-service – including creating their own reports and dashboards in the application they use.

The existence of distinct design instances in most “embedded” BI and analytics solutions is particularly surprising given the way people approach work in today’s mobile-centric world. We download apps for our phone that allow us to do tasks. Everything we need to complete an activity integrates with that experience. Yet when it comes to the analytics made available to most users as part of an application workflow, the flexibility to embed the appropriate functions into that workflow doesn’t exist.

Embedded Analytics Puts Data Where It’s Needed

Mission control for those early spaceflights put a committed group of experts together to provide real-time data and analysis. The flight director took in all that data and analysis, along with recommendations on whether to launch, and made a launch decision.

Now that we have the computing power so business users can collect the data needed within the organization, why would we limit the ability to explore it? They’ll make better decisions if they can go where the data leads them. Give them the ability to create reports and dashboards within the business application. That must include the ability to drill down and through the data as they attempt to make the best business decisions possible in real time.

The flight director kept Mission Control’s workflow on track. Staff manually delivered the data they collected through sensors and gauges. Today’s business users need analytics within the workflow created in the core application. A truly embedded analytics platform delivers this requirement. Its integrated seamlessly and its completely white-labeled so business users feel they are in the experience they know and never leave that workflow.

Izenda’s embedded analytics platform delivers self-service BI directly to the people who need it most – the users of your application. Our solution allows end users to easily analyze, visualize, and share valuable data and insights in real time. Because the platform is completely web-based and fully responsive, your end users have access to analytics from any device.
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